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An Introduction to Surf Fishing in the South, with Shark Video

Updated on May 4, 2011

saltwater fishing tips

Surf fishing can be one of the most relaxing types of angling in the world. You can toss your line into the surf, place it in a rod holder, and soak up the sun while you wait for a bite. And with a few saltwater fishing tips, it's easy to be successful! If you're more ambitious, you might prefer to wade out waist deep or so, cast into deeper water, and remain in the surf. Actually, unless the weather's cold, you'll probably do a little of both while saltwater fishing.

While it's true that surf fishing can be very relaxing, it can also be extremely exciting. For one thing, you never know what you might catch. Here in the South, depending on the time of year and the bait you're using, you might catch seatrout, reds, flounder, whiting, spadefish, black drum, pompano, mangrove snapper, blues, catfish, stingrays, sharks, spots, ladyfish, croaker, sand trout, weakfish, needlefish, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, or even small tarpon and cobia. And some of these species can be real heavy-weights!

To get started, you'll need a rod and reel loaded with monofillament line. The size and line weight will depend on which species you're targeting. I suggest a section of wire leader because some surf fish are equipped with sharp teeth that can tear right through regularline. Use a circle hook, again the size depending on the size of the fish you're after. You'll also need a weight to keep your bait from drifting. If the current and waves are very calm, a one-ounce weight will do. On the other hand, if you're fishing really rough seas, you could need a heavy pyramid storm sinker. If your line keeps drifting, or if your bait keeps coming back in, you'll know you need more weight.

Now for the bait! For surf fishing, you'll have a wide choice. One of the best is dead shrimp. Most fish species will bite them. Just make sure they're fresh. If they're not, you'll get a lot of hits from "trash fish" like ocean cats. If you're after flounder or trout, your best bet is live minnows or live shrimp. For sheepshead, pompano, and drum, use sand fleas or fiddler crabs. Cut mullet is another good bait for surf fishing.

Some species, especially trout, are often feeding above the bottom. To target them, you might want to put a live shrimp under a float. I have, however, caught plenty of trout while fishing on the bottom with all kinds of bait.

If you prefer using artificial baits, try silver spoons, stick baits, and leadhead jigs. Experiment with different types and colors until you get a strike.

If you hook a big fish, don't wade into the water to retrieve it - you never know what it might be. It might be a shark, which could take out a chunk of your leg, or it could be a catfish, which could fin you, or it might be a stingray, which could zap you with its tail.

To catch your own free bait, and to read more about fishing, click on the article links below.


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    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      For real, Lady E! So could I! Oh wait...I have. Lots of times!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting Hub. I'm not into fishing but if it's a view like the one in the photo above, then I'd be happy to Surf fish all day. :)